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Genomic Analysis of ESBL-Producing E. coli in Wildlife from North-Eastern Germany

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a serious global health threat and extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Enterobacterales are a major contributor. This study aimed to gain a deeper insight into the AMR burden of wild animals. In total, 1595 fecal samples were collected by two systematic searches in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, north-east Germany. Samples were screened for ESBL-carrying Escherichia (E.) coli and isolates found were further analyzed using antimicrobial susceptibility testing and whole-genome sequencing. We found an estimated prevalence of 1.2% ESBL-producing E. coli in wild boar and 1.1% in wild ruminants. CTX-M-1 was the most abundant CTX-M type. We also examined fecal samples from wild boar and wild ruminants using shotgun metagenomics to gain insight into the resistome in wild animals. The latter revealed significantly lower normalized counts for AMR genes in wildlife samples compared to farm animals. The AMR gene levels were lower in wild ruminants than in wild boar. In conclusion, our study revealed a low prevalence of ESBL-producing E. coli and a low overall AMR gene burden in wild boar and wild ruminants, probably due to the secluded location of the search area



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